Cheers and tears at Renfrewshire Council election result
THERE were cheers and tears yesterday as the Renfrewshire Council election results were announced.
Delighted Labour candidates were in party mood as all 22 of them were elected.
It means they sweep back into power after a SNP/Liberal Democrat coalition had run the council for the last five years.
However, while there was joy for Labour, there were tears from SNP candidate Tracie McGee, who sensationally lost her Johnstone South, Elderslie and Howwood seat to her husband Stephen.
Mr McGee, who has been married to Tracie for 20 years, told the Paisley Daily Express: “I would have preferred it if my wife had been elected but we will carry on trying to do the work we have been doing.
“I was inspired to stand by Tracie’s passion for the job. We’ve been working together on her work as a councillor for a long time now. That’s what prompted me to take the next step and stand for election.”
Former Liberal Democrat councillor Mike Dillon was also left stunned as he surprisingly lost his Paisley North West seat to the SNP.
Mr Dillon, who runs the Apollo Music store in Causeyside Street, Paisley, said: “I’m very disappointed from the point of view that I had been doing a lot of community work.
“I doubt very much that the Labour councillors are capable of working as well in the community.
“The Lib Dems have taken a hit as a party but we can be proud of the contribution we’ve made to Renfrewshire over the last five years.”
There are many new faces in the new Renfrewshire Council – and several of them are the spouses of existing councillors.
Margaret Devine, wife of Eddie, has been elected in the Renfrew South and Gallowhill ward.
She decided to stand after retiring from her job at the Marks & Spencer store, in Paisley’s High Street, last summer.
Mrs Devine said: “It’s absolutely wonderful. The hard work has all been worth it.
“I’ve always helped my husband and have been involved with the Labour party for about 30-odd years.
“I retired from my work last June and, instead of sitting around the house, I thought I would have a go at this.
“I’m really looking forward to the next five years.”
Jim and Maureen Sharkey were both elected in the Paisley East and Ralston ward.
“I’m very glad to be back and I’m much more pleased that Maureen is going to be there with me,” said Mr Sharkey. “We’ll be able to do a proper job for the area.”
Mrs Sharkey, who is manager of the Scottish Care Information on Miscarriage charity, added: “I’ve been a member of the Labour Party for over 35 years and my father, Philip O’Rourke, was the longest serving councillor in Paisley.
“I’ve always had an interest in politics but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to stand.”
Jacqueline Henry, wife of Labour man Hugh Henry, who is the MSP for Renfrewshire South, was elected in the Paisley South West ward.
She decided to stand when the former council administration announced its plans to replace 2.5 hours of teaching time with unqualified staff.
Mrs Henry said: “I’m relieved and also very thankful to the people of Foxbar and Glenburn who voted for me.
“I think it’s an indication of how they’ve felt for the last five years.”
Her husband added: “Jacqueline is in no way a politician’s wife. She has her own mind and her own views – as I know to my cost!
“I think she’ll make a fantastic contribution to the council.”
The SNP will also have some husband-and-wife teams representing them in the council chambers.
Kenny MacLaren and his wife Mags, who have been together for nearly 30 years, were voted in to represent the Paisley North West ward.
Mrs MacLaren said: “I didn’t stand last time because I was working for the council and I didn’t want to give that up but my job changed and I decided I wanted to stand this time around.
“Kenny and I work well together.”
Andy Doig, whose wife Audrey had already been serving as a councillor, has been elected in the Johnstone North, Kilbarchan and Lochwinnoch ward – after his seventh run for office.
He said: “I’ve stood four times for Westminister and twice for the Scottish Parliament but this was my first attempt at a local election.”
Mrs Doig, who retained her seat in the Houston, Crosslee and Linwood ward, added: “I always did take my work home with me and it’s going to be a very interesting household over the next five years.
“We’ll be arguing about whose area deserves more!”
Meanwhile, there were some upsets for long-standing representatives in neighbouring East Renfrewshire Council.
SNP man Douglas Yates, who spoke for the local authority on social work and health issues, lost his seat in the Barrhead ward, as did Independent candidate Eddie Phillips, who was formerly a Labour councillor.
In the Neilston, Uplawmoor and Newton Mearns North ward, Tory councillor Leslie Rosin lost his seat.